Friday, November 30, 2007

NY Public Radio on Chant

Very, very interesting audio broadcast on chant from the NY Public Radio. You will enjoy this, even if Damian Thompson isn't right on everything.

Archbishop Burke approves new oratory for Latin Mass

St. Louis Review Online

by Jean M. Schildz, Review Staff Writer

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke has announced he is establishing this weekend the Oratory of St. Gregory the Great and St. Augustine of Canterbury at the Abbey of St. Mary and St. Louis in Creve Coeur.

The oratory will be the new West County home for the regular celebration of the "extraordinary form" of the Mass, commonly known as the traditional or Tridentine Latin Mass.

The decree of erection establishing the oratory will take effect the First Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2.

This will be the archdiocese’s second such oratory, or nonterritorial parish, that has been set aside for the celebration of the Latin Mass. St. Francis de Sales Oratory was the first, established by Archbishop Burke in 2005.

As part of the archbishop’s decree, he appointed Benedictine Father Bede Price to the office of rector of the oratory, effective Dec. 2. That day Father Price will celebrate the first traditional Latin Mass at the oratory at 10:30 a.m.

The oratory will then celebrate Latin Mass Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and Mondays through Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. The Masses will take place in St. Anselm Parish Centre Chapel on the grounds of St. Louis Abbey, 530 S. Mason Road. The site was chosen in part because it is easily accessible to Catholics residing in West County and surrounding areas.

The archbishop in a prepared statement Nov. 27 told the Review, "I am most grateful that I have been able to provide fitting pastoral care for the faithful in the West County and surrounding area, who desire the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy according to the ‘extraordinary use.’ The celebration of the Sacred Liturgy at the Oratory of St. Gregory the Great and St. Augustine of Canterbury, and the pastoral life at the oratory will bring added richness of grace to the life of the Church in the archdiocese."

He expressed his deepest gratitude to Abbot Thomas Frerking, OSB, of the Abbey of St. Mary and St. Louis, and the monks of the abbey, "who have so generously worked with me in providing for the oratory."

Archbishop Burke said Abbot Thomas had generously agreed to erect the oratory at the abbey "for those desiring the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, according to the rites in force in 1962" and to present Father Price for appointment to the office of oratory rector.

Noted the archbishop, "The abbey, with the collaboration of the archdiocese, is preparing a most fitting chapel for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy."

The abbot told the Review in an interview earlier this fall that his community will offer the Latin Mass as a part of its apostolate while continuing to offer Mass in the ordinary form.

The new West County oratory has been placed under the protection of two major Benedictine saints: St. Gregory the Great, pope from 590 to 604 and a Doctor of the Church, and St. Augustine of Canterbury, who brought Roman Catholicism to England and was the first archbishop of Canterbury. The two saints knew each other; it was St. Gregory who sent St. Augustine out to England as a missionary.

Their names were chosen as a way to honor the abbey "because of the ministry entrusted to the English Benedictines," said Father Thomas Keller. The archdiocese’s master of ceremonies has been working with the archbishop for several months to find a viable site at which to celebrate the Latin Mass in West County since the departure this past summer of the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem.

The Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem for the past four years had been celebrating the Latin Mass according to the rites in force in 1962 at the Passionist Monastery in Ellisville. Father Keller began caring for the community of 75 to 100 people when the order left.

Father Price began assisting Father Keller in October. The community now will be served by the oratory at the abbey. Other monks as they are trained in the traditional Latin rite will later assist Father Price, Father Keller said.

Father Price has been on the staff at Priory School for 15 years. He teaches history and theology part time there. He entered the Benedictine community in 1990, and has a master’s in history from the University of Oxford, England, and a master’s in theology from St. Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad, Ind. He will be joining three fellow monks now serving as parish priests: two at St. Anselm and the pastor of St. Ignatius in Concord Hill.

Father Price said both he and his Benedictine community "are quite excited to serve this new community in this capacity." The oratory community, though small, is growing, he said, "with lots of little babies. It’s a very cozy, family environment."

Added the soon-to-be oratory rector, "It’s a great honor for all of us that the archbishop is wanting to entrust this to us. He told me when he spoke to me he thinks it is appropriate that the Benedictines do this work because we have a reputation for doing the liturgy well, which was certainly a compliment to the community here."

Father Price also thanked Father Karl Lenhardt, rector of St. Francis de Sales Oratory, for his strong support and Father Keller for his tireless help "in keeping this little community together."

Father Price noted that the oratory will celebrate the traditional Latin Mass for Christmas Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and a sung High Mass on Christmas Day at 10:30 a.m.

Father Lenhardt of St. Francis de Sales is the archdiocese’s episcopal vicar for the traditional Latin Mass. He called the establishment of the second oratory providential, as was the oratory of his order, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

The archbishop erected St. Francis de Sales Oratory two years before Pope Benedict XVI published his apostolic letter, "Summorum Pontificum," which allows for greater use of the Tridentine Mass. "The presence of the former discipline of the celebration of the holy Mass and also the liturgy of the other sacraments and devotions is not something that is simply a part of past history, ... preference of taste or aesthetics, but it should be a normal part of the life of the Church." It is the archbishop’s as well as the pope’s intentions, he said, "to provide not only the necessary, but good pastoral care for all the faithful who wish to experience this continuity in the liturgy of the Church."

Father Lenhardt added he was particularly grateful and pleased the oratory was connected to the Benedictines, who he said are renowned for their care of the liturgy. "I have no doubt this beautiful treasure of the Church is in the right hands at the abbey."

Teresa and David White and their family of four of Moscow Mills in Lincoln County have been part of the Ellisville Latin Mass community and plan to attend Mass at the new oratory.

After the Canons left, said Teresa, "there was a great degree of uncertainty as to what would happen to the availability of the Latin Mass." She was very thankful that the archbishop was "committed in his heart to making available a viable solution to keep and prorogate the Latin Mass in West County."

White called the move to the abbey "wonderful in the sense that it gives our little community a permanent home" and visible exposure. It opens the doors for others "to enter into the spirituality of the 1962 Latin missal."

Added White, "It’s wonderful that he’s given us that security, because we didn’t have that."

Piero Marini in Paris: A Report for the NLM on the launch of 'Cérémoniaire des papes'

[Many thanks to Dom Christopher for putting this together for the NLM and its readers. It seemed like a good opportunity to get a more intimate sense not only of Piero Marini's thought on matters liturgical, but also a general sense both from him and others, on the liturgical landscape as it unfolds in the reign of Benedict XVI -- SRT]

by Dom Christopher Lazowski, OSB

“When we talk about liturgy, in fact we are talking above all about tradition. Without tradition, the liturgy would not exist, any more than the Church. We can live our faith now because God is the God of our fathers and because we have received the faith from others. Tradition implies both transmission and reception. The past and the present are thus linked necessarily to tradition and hence to the liturgy. The link with the present expresses itself above in the act of transmission and reception, the link with the past above all in the reality transmitted and received. ...

Thus, in architecture, in iconography, in music, in the design of sacred objects or of liturgical vestments, we do not start at zero, but from the experience of tradition. When I see, for example, certain chasubles chosen for World Youth Days, in Paris, in Rome, or in Cologne, I say to myself that we should not resort to outlandish [“fantaisistes”] inventions; rather, we should follow mainly the line of tradition and of noble simplicity.”

Those last two words may give a clue as to who is speaking here. Last Wednesday, the Institut Supérieur de Liturgie, which is part of the faculty of theology of the Institut Catholique (Catholic University) of Paris, organised a launch for a book of interviews with Archbishop Piero Marini, entitled “Cérémoniaire des papes: entretiens sur la liturgie avec Vincent Cabanac et Dominique Chivot”. My abbot asked me to attend, and Shawn asked me to send an account of the evening for the NLM.

The evening was very well attended. A number of bishops were present, including the apostolic nuncio and a fellow monk, Archbishop Robert Le Gall of Toulouse. A quick glance around the participants revealed that they were fairly clearly divided into two groups. The older clergy and nuns wore lay clothes and looked cross. The younger priests wore Roman collars, and the younger nuns wore veils and floor-length habits; all of this second group looked happy. A good number of seminarians was also present. We began with Vespers, according to the Liturgy of the Hours, in St. Joseph's Church, which is the chapel of the Institut Catholique. The use of Latin was limited to the Magnificat (according to the Vulgate, rather than the Neo-Vulgate) and the pontifical blessing. A more generous use of Latin and Gregorian chant would have been welcome; however, in all fairness, I should mention that the music for the French texts was much better that the tuneless and un-memorable music that one often has to endure in vernacular liturgies over here, and that the singing was good. The “lectio brevis” (1 Peter 5: 5b-7) was followed by a homily by Archbishop Marini. Although I am not a fan of preaching during the Office, he did preach well. He dwelt in particular on the fact that true humility supposes the patient acceptance of the humiliations that God sends us, an idea that is important in the Rule of St. Benedict. Two thoughts crossed my mind as he spoke. The first was that he may have been speaking from recent experience. The second was that the three criteria that St. Benedict gives for discerning a possible vocation, zeal for the Opus Dei, for obedience, and for humiliations, could also be used for evaluating the quality of a liturgist. One last remark about Vespers. About half-way through, I noticed a lit sanctuary lamp near the high altar, behind the more recent altar. So I presume the Blessed Sacrament was present; however, It was resolutely ignored throughout.

After Vespers, three short speeches, from Archbishop Le Gall, Brother Patrick Prétot, monk of La-Pierre-Qui-Vire and director of the I.S.L., and Father Vincent Cabanac, A.A., introduced the guest of honour. I was glad to note that Archbishop Le Gall concluded his remarks by mentioning the importance of obeying the wishes of the Holy Father by implementing “Summorum Pontificum”; whatever he may have thought before the publication of the Motu Proprio, I have never thought that he would oppose its implementation. Abbots of the Congregation of Solesmes may have their faults, but they generally “get” obedience. On the other hand, Father Cabanac spoke mainly of what he called the importance of “protecting” the post-conciliar liturgical reforms.

Brother Patrick had asked Archbishop Marini to speak about “Liturgy and large gatherings: the impact of pontifical liturgical celebrations on the liturgical life of local churches.” I confess that I was relieved that he did not stick to the subject requested, but rather spoke in a more general way of his experiences as papal master of ceremonies.

He began by pointing out that the influence of the papal liturgy on the rest of the Western Church is not a recent phenomenon. He mentioned the importance of visits by popes north of the Alps in the Middle Ages, the period of the Avignon papacy, as well as the work of Guillaume Durand, who both bishop of Mende and a prelate of the curia. He could have gone further back, as the direct influence of the papal liturgy goes back at least to the reign of Charlemagne and the sending of the Hadrianum, perhaps even earlier. He also mentioned, but in a more general way, the Ordines Romani, drawn up by the “ordinatores”, the predecessors of the later masters of ceremonies. However, he could have mentioned that these documents also influenced liturgy outside Rome. For example, the ceremonial of Cluny in the eleventh and twelfth centuries seems to owe more to deliberate imitation of Ordo I than to the contemporary practice of the local church, the diocese of Macon.

While speaking about the recent reform of the Roman liturgy, he said something that surprised me. He claimed that this reform, by removing what was specifically Roman, transformed the Roman Rite into a rite more generally suitable for the whole Latin Church. I am not sure what this means. The process of the development of the Roman Rite from that of the local rite of the local Roman church into the common rite of the West began long before the 1960s, and I cannot think offhand of any elements of the older Roman Missal that are eliminated in the new one that are “strictly Roman”. If any readers can correct me, I would be grateful! I am also at a loss as to which “strictly Roman” elements of the Roman rite could possibly constitute obstacles to a spiritually fruitful participation in the liturgy.

Much of what Archbishop Marini had to say about his experiences as master of ceremonies was of great interest. He spoke a lot about inculturation and papal ceremonies. He seemed to confirm the general opinion that Pope John Paul gave him considerable latitude in this domain. He said, “The pope had confidence in me,” and said it in such a way as to imply that Pope Benedict did not. Some of the examples of inculturation that he gave made me cringe, but he also made it clear that he did not have complete control over what happened, particularly during papal visits outside Rome. Some of the more outlandish happenings, in particular liturgical dances, seem to have come as unwelcome surprises to him. But other examples of inculturation that he referred to with approval seemed rather to be manifestations of syncretism. He also evoked the problems of dealing with large numbers of concelebrants and of the distribution of Holy Communion to huge crowds. It was clear that he found none of the attempted solutions to be satisfactory. If I understood correctly, he mentioned in passing that Pope Benedict has recently approved a document that limits the number of concelebrants to as many as can be clearly seen to be in relation to the altar, that is to say, no more than the sanctuary can hold. (I was making a note of something else when he said this, so I may have missed something; he might have been advancing his own opinion.) Some of the expedients adopted for the distribution of Communion were downright weird. At one outdoor Mass, concelebrants were bussed to communicants; at the World Youth Day Mass in Paris, enormous quantities of hosts were consecrated at private Masses celebrated in tents around the edges of the site the day before, and distributed from these “eucharistic tents” during the papal Mass.

One particular problem he evoked is one that has given rise to discussion here over the past few days: the place of the Holy Father during the Liturgy of the Word at Masses in St. Peter's. He said without any ambiguity that placing a chair in front of the altar, and removing it during Mass, is a bad idea, and should not be imitated. His own preferred solution would be to erect a permanent throne in front of the pillar facing the statue of St. Peter towards the west end of the nave of the basilica. However, internal Vatican opposition to this idea has always prevented him from going any further.

The idea of “active participation” came up a number of times. It is clear that Archbishop Marini shares the common misunderstanding of what “participatio actuosa” means. For him, it must involve making a noise, and/or running around. Such a misunderstanding necessarily leads to all sorts of other errors, like the rejection of most of the Church's patrimony of sacred music. But another, and even more serious error came to light near the end of his talk. He was explaining how the liturgy is not a spectacle. I found myself nodding in agreement, as he said, “We must ever remember that the principal actor [“agens”] in the liturgy is...” From what had gone before, I was expecting him to say, “Christ.” So when he said, “the People of God,” I almost fell off my chair. This is not what “Sacrosanctum Concilium” says:

“Proinde omnis liturgica celebratio, utpote opus Christi sacerdotis, eiusque Corporis, quod est Ecclesia, est actio sacra praecellenter, cuius efficacitatem eodem titulo eodemque gradu nulla alia actio Ecclesiae adaequat.”

It is the action of Christ, and the action of the Church inasmuch as she is His mystical body. To say that the principal actor is the People of God makes the liturgy into the work of the headless body, a cadaver.

After a few more short speeches from the archbishop of Lille, the bishop of Saint-Etienne, and Father Pierre Faure, S.J., and a brief time for questions, the bishop of Langres summed up. His concluding remarks echoed those of Father Cabanac; the two together gave me the distinct impression that the liturgical establishment, those who are convinced that the liturgical reform as it really took place reflects what Vatican II really meant by the Constitution on the sacred liturgy, are on the defensive. “We must defend the conciliar reform,” he said. Others might say that we need to implement it.

My general impression of the archbishop, both from his talk and from what I have read of his book so far, is of someone who has only understood half of what the liturgical movement is about. Time and again I found myself agreeing with what he seemed to be saying, only to find myself disagreeing strongly with his conclusion. The whole experience gave a better idea of why the Holy Father has appointed a new master of ceremonies. But to end with something positive, I will finish with another quotation from Archbishop Marini's book, a passage in which he pays tribute to Pope Benedict:

“To me, Benedict XVI is not only an expert in liturgy, but also someone who lives the liturgy, in the knowledge of what it is. I experienced this for myself from the beginning of his pontificate when I travelled with him a number of times. I then witnessed his sense of the liturgy, his understanding of the liturgy. He is the son of great masters, such as Romano Guardini, among others. It is difficult to find in history, since the end of he first millennium, another pope who thus places himself within the mystery of the liturgy.”

Dominus dabit, and the beauty of chant

I had to lecture on chant a few nights ago, so I played a bit of a game to prepare. I decided to pick this Sunday's communion antiphon, whatever it is, and use it as an illustration of the glorious unity of musical composition and theology that chant embodies. I wanted to show myself that what I suspect is true: every chant in the Graduale is a hidden treasure, and capable of being examined in the way that a masterpiece painting or architecture is examined.

The piece turned out to be Dominus Dabit:

The first step was learning it, which was not difficult since it is in familiar Mode I. Then the mysteries begin to be revealed. I like the announcement at the beginning of Lord, so elaborate and placed right at the start with a strong independent phrase, moving thereafter to how the Lord gives forth goodness. The goodness of the Lord is illustrated beautifully here with the highest notes of the piece, which then fall down.

I'll let Dom Johner continue with his commentary, and only add that the lower notes after land struck me as a way of illustrating that the growth of the final fruit in the last phrase comes from deep roots.

The Lord gives His blessing: a joyous animation runs through the melody with these words. What copious blessings has the Lord poured upon this earth, and what a plentitude of grace has He again placed in our souls in Holy Communion as seed for eternity! Wherever this seed falls upon rich soil, in souls who recognize that the one thing necessary is to do the will of God, there it bears rich fruit.

In the Blessed Virgin, however, this Communion finds its finest realization. Hitherto our earth had brought forth but thorns and thistles. We are, as Adam of St. Victor sang in the twelfth century, a thornhedge, lacerated by the thorns of sin; but Mary knows nothing of thorns. She is so richly blessed that the angel can greet her as "full of grace." The heart of this ancilla Domini was fertile soil, moistened by the dew of heaven. Soon she will present us with the most beautiful flowerlet, the ripest and most luscious fruit which has ever graced the face of the earth, a fruit so precious that mankind, generation after generation, will never weary of calling out to her: "Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus!"

The first phrase has a range of a ninth; with benignitatem it lets the blessings drop gently from above. The second phrase, which treats of the fruits of the earth, does not extend above the dominant of the mode (a). Both phrases descend in a gentle line to low c and begin the following member with an interval of a fourth. A fluent and bright rendition should characterize the whole piece.

USCCB Document on Liturgical Music released

I have not had a chance to read it yet, but the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship has posted Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, their document on music in the sacred liturgy.

Dominican Rite Missa Cantata for Immaculate Conception

Cantores in Ecclesia under the direction of Dean Applegate will sing for a Missa Cantata in the traditional Dominican Rite at Holy Rosary Church, 375 N.E. Clackamas Street, Portland, OR (tel. 503-235-3163), on Saturday, December 8, at 9 a.m. in the church, for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The celebrant will be the pastor, Fr. Anthony Patalano, O.P. Music will include Fauré’s Messe Basse, Polanc’s Ave Maria, and Duraflé’s Tota Pulchra Est, as well as propers from the Domincian Gradual. I am sure that readers in the Portland area will be interested in this event.

This Sung Mass will be in addition to the usual Dominican Rite Low Mass of Our Lady on the First Saturday of the Month, which will be celebrated tomorrow, December 1, at 9 a.m., also in the church. The pastor informs me that plans are underway for a Dominican Rite Missa Cantata as the principal Mass of Christmas Day this year. That Mass is part of planning, encouraged by and with permission of the Western Dominican Provincial, to make the Sung Mass available at Holy Rosary on a more regular basis. Previously, as readers of this blogg know, the Sung Mass was celebrated only occasionally, usually on a few solemnities a year. It is possible the Sung Mass will be in the solemn form on some occasions.

The December music schedule of Cantores may be found here:

The image on this post is from the Fourteenth-Century Dominican Poissy Antiphonal, folio 324v, and shows the Birth of Our Lady.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Vatican I Chasuble

Vatican I chasuble

Recent posts on old vesture and of course, our holy father's choice of vestments last weekend, reminded me of this photo I took while in Rome this past summer.

This is the chasuble given to Blessed Pope Pius IX by the city of Rome which he wore at the opening Mass of the First Vatican Council on 8 December 1869. Following on from our feast of Christus Rex Universorum, it is appropriately embroidered with an image of Christ thus enthroned.

The vestment-relic is displayed in the museum of the Lateran arch-basilica in Rome.

The croccia

A reader asked for more information about the so-called croccia.

This term is actually used to designate several different garments worn by different ranks of priests or prelates of the Papal Household.

The caudatario's croccia:

It has the shape of a sort of open violet woolen mozzetta with short sleeves.

It is worn -by Pius IV's concession in 1559- whenever the train-bearer of a Cardinal escorts him to a papal function.

The Papal Chamberlain's or Papal Chaplain's croccia:

It's a sort of red woolen mantle covered with red silk and with a large hood covered with ermine in winter.

It is worn by Privy Chamberlains and Papal Chaplains only during papal functions

The Cardinal's croccia:

It's a sort of open violet woolen cloak worn by Cardinals over the mozzetta during the Conclave until Pius IX's election in 1846. Later, it fell into desuetude.

Fr John Saward at the Oxford Newman Society

Fr John Saward is Priest in Charge of the parish of SS Gregory and Augustine in North Oxford and Lisieux Senior Research Fellow in Theology at Greyfriars Permanent Private Hall of Oxford University. In his earlier life he studied Philosophy and Psychology at St John’s College, Oxford, trained for Anglican orders at St Stephen’s House, Oxford, and was Chaplain of Lincoln College, Oxford. He was received into the Catholic Church in 1979, and after many years teaching theology at Catholic institutions, including the International Theological Institute at Gaming, Austria, St Charles Borromeo Seminary, Pennsylvania, USA, and Ushaw, England, he was ordained priest in 2003. Over the years he has published numerous books and articles, notably Redeemer in the Womb (1993), The Way of the Lamb (1997), and Cradle of Redeeming Love (2002); he was also the English translator of the Holy Father’s Spirit of the Liturgy (2000). He is married with three grown-up daughters.

There are pages giving his CV on several websites; the most complete appears to be the Gaming one; he also has a Wikipedia entry.

Fr Saward has not only a very serious academic interest in the liturgy (a current project is a ‘A spiritual commentary on the Roman rite of Holy Mass’, to be called Catena Eucharistica; something to look out for), but he has long celebrated the Traditional Roman Mass as a private devotion. When I became the local representative of the Latin Mass Society in 2005, I saw that he was a member; as assistant priest at SS Gregory and Augustine’s, he suggested celebrating regular First Friday Masses; it was not long before it was established that these would be sung in Term time. These have proved to be a staple for local singers wishing to participate in the Traditional liturgy. Since becoming Priest in Charge at that church, we have had Gregorian Chant Training days there, and regular Low Masses on Wednesdays. He has also extended the use of Gregorian Chant at his regular Novus Ordo Sunday Masses, with the assistance of the remarkable Dr John Caldwell, a musicologist and composer who is also the organist and director of the parish choir.

As advertised in advance on the NLM, he gave a talk this week to the Oxford University Newman Society on the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. He spoke to a capacity crowd in the Catholic Chaplaincy’s library, in the presence of the Senior Chaplain, Fr John Moffat SJ, several Dominicans, and me. In what follows I summarize his talk.

He began by noting that he was not (thank heavens) a ‘liturgist’, so would be talking about the dogmatic, not simply liturgical or indeed church political implications of the MP. The starting point of a dogmatic approach to the MP is St Thomas Aquinas’s remark ‘sed contra’ to objections to the rituals of the Mass (ST IIIa q.83 a.5 sc): ‘The custom of the Church stands for these things: and the Church cannot err, since she is taught by the Holy Ghost.’ (Sed in contrarium est Ecclesiae consuetudo, quae errare non potest, utpote spiritu sancto instructa.) It is not just the propositional statements of the Church which, when they have the appropriate degree of authority, can be relied upon as guided and guaranteed by the Holy Ghost, but the customs of the Church. What is practised for long ages by the most universally revered authorities cannot suddenly be said to be defective. This is exactly the point made repeatedly by Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger in his books, and which is repeated clearly by Papa Ratzinger in his Letter to Bishops accompanying the MP. What was holy yesterday cannot be harmful today; indeed, the denial of this principle ‘calls the very existence of the Church into question’ (Feast of Faith). It is for this reason that it must be understood that the previous liturgical tradition was never abrogated. This is a dogmatic matter, and in making this dogmatic point the Holy Father is doing what he always does in the exercise of his office, which is guarding the Faith.

It is in this light that we can understand the recent remarks by Archbishop Ranjith, who is working closely with the Pope on this matter, that the liberation of the Traditional Mass is a condition for the renewal desired by the Second Vatican Council. Respect for tradition is the basis for Catholics’ search for truth.

Fr Saward then gave a series of examples in which the teaching of the Church, revealed and made vivid by the Traditional form or the Roman Rite, as other ancient Rites, is obscured in the Missal of Paul VI. First, many of the orations of the 1962 Missal are addressed to the Second Person of the Trinity, and two prayers, the Suscipe, sancta Trinitas at the Offertory and the Placeat tibi, sancta Trinitase are addressed to the whole Trinity, despite the fact that the majority of the orations and other prayers use the familiar form of addressing the Father through the Son in the Holy Ghost. This twofold pattern of liturgical prayer reflects and makes manifest the Catholic dogma of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. The 1970 Missal removes almost all of the orations addressed to the incarnate Son and both of the prayers addressed to the whole Trinity. These amputations from the liturgy open the way to misunderstanding. Participants in the liturgy are no longer reminded of the co-equality and consubstantiality of the Persons of the Trinity. This is not a merely theoretical point since a whole series of Trinitarian and Christological errors, tending to the denial of Christ’s Divine nature and co-equality with the Father, have been condemned or censured by the Holy See in recent decades (cf the cases of Edward Schillebeeckx OP and, more recently, of Roger Haight SJ).

A second example, mentioned by the then Professor Ratzinger in his textbook on Eschatology, is the disappearance of the word anima, ‘soul’, from the reformed liturgy of the dead and elsewhere. Prayers addressing the soul of the dead man or woman to be buried are replaced or adapted to refer to God’s ‘famulus(a)’, God’s servant or handmaid. Again, there is no heresy in the new prayers, but the loss of the references to the metaphysical reality of the soul, and especially the soul separated from the body at death, is most unfortunate in light of theological errors on this subject, which have had to be censured (e.g. by the SCDF in 1979).

A third example is the suppression, even in prayers otherwise retained, of references to the priest’s sinfulness and compunction. Do priests no longer need to express sorrow for their sins? In the cold light of day, this and the other changes enumerated seem bizarre: what positive reason could be adduced for them?

A fourth example is the ceremonial of the Mass, such as the signs of the cross, so many of which have been suppressed in the 1970 Missal. These actions had in the past given rise to a whole genre of spiritual commentaries on the Mass, which assigned dogmatic meanings to the rituals with great consistency. Many saints, including St Thomas Aquinas, contributed to this literature, and took these signs extremely seriously. With the 1970 Missal, not only are these books rendered obsolete, but the signs themselves are no longer there to communicate their dogmatic significance to the onlooker.

Fr Saward then turned to the Pope’s exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, which is linked to the MP in an important way. The Eucharist is the sacrament of love, and the MP has charity as both its source and it object: not merely the reconciliation of Traditionalists to full communion with the Church, but more fundamentally an increase of faith and charity among the Faithful. The Mass is a source of charity since, as Aquinas teaches, the worthy reception of Holy Communion actualises charity, and makes the recipient ‘spiritually gladdened’. This is possible only, of course, to the communicant who is properly disposed, and to achieve this proper participation in the Mass, uniting oneself in intention with Christ the High Priest, is necessary.

With this is mind, we turn to the remarkably strongly-worded critique of misleading or unhelpful aspects of the 1970 Missal found in Ratzinger’s works. In The Spirit of the Liturgy Ratzinger made an extremely strong critique of Mass facing the people, warning that such Masses could and in some times and places had become a ‘closed circle’, where attention which should be fixed on God became fixed on Man; he even likened such ‘self-initiated’ and ‘self-seeking’ liturgy to the worship of the Golden Calf: the ultimate substitution of a human artifact for God as the object of worship. In that book and elsewhere, Ratzinger noted the problem of silence in the New Mass, since for the most part periods of silence in the course of Mass were only possible by bringing the liturgy to a temporary halt. On the contrary, Ratzinger argued, to be fruitful silence needs to be an integral part of the liturgy, what he calls ‘filled silence’, and not merely an artificial pause. In these and in other ways the reformed liturgy actually militates against effective participation.

In concluding, Fr Saward warned against the temptations faced by those who, like him, are ‘attached’ to the Traditional liturgy, notably pride and over-emphasis on externals. Charity, again, must be our object. To facilitate the flow of charity from our participation in Mass to our ordinary interaction, we should heed the advice of St Thomas Aquinas once more, and seek the intercession of Our Lady, always the model for the reception of Jesus Christ, and who in every danger will come to the assistance of her suppliants.

The talk was followed by questions. In the course of these Fr Saward noted the paradox that the Roman Rite, long noted for its conservatism and austerity, had lost these features in its reformed form by the addition of elements from other Rites.

He urged his audience to read books in preference to blogs!

He noted the immense importance of the published works of Cardinal Ratzinger, over the years, in forming his own thinking and that of many others, on the subject of the Mass, and how with the MP the Holy Father’s openness to criticism of the reformed liturgy was a very liberating experience. Faithful Catholics no longer feel they must suppress doubts and worries and concerns about the reform, for they have been expressed by the Pope himself.

The final question from the floor concerned the pastoral difficulty of widening the use of the Traditional Mass. There are clearly many who would, if confronted with it without further ado, find it an ‘alien experience’. One option at this point, the questioner suggested, would be to contemplate a ‘two-tier’ liturgy, the Traditional one for those who can really grasp it, and the reformed Mass for everyone else.

In response to this, Fr Saward acknowledged the seriousness of the difficulty, which he had experienced himself in his own parish. However, a two-tier liturgy is not the right answer. The Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, have no special liturgy for special groups, no ‘children’s liturgy’ for example, but one Divine Liturgy which is always sung and always rather lengthy, by Latin standards. This does not seem to create difficulties for them with regard to the young, or the less educated; on the contrary, this kind of liturgical experience is something that everyone can appreciate. It will certainly be difficult to bring the liturgical tradition, in its fullness, back into every corner of ordinary parish life, but it must at least be attempted with the help of God. The key to liturgical formation is the receptivity of children and the capacity for wonder with which all human beings are endowed. The great liturgical tradition of the Church, East and West, has the power to touch hearts.

(The photographs of Fr Saward celebrating Mass were taken in SS Gregory and Augustine by the author on Wednesday 28th November; the Mass was Ferial Low Mass. The photograph of the talk was taken by Mr Richard Pickett, and is used by permission. The author would like to thank Fr Saward for correcting a draft of this post; the inaccuracies which remain are the author's.)

Book Review: Ever Directed Towards the Lord

Ever Directed Towards the Lord: The Love of God in the Liturgy of the Eucharist Past, Present and Hoped For
Uwe Michael Lang, ed.
T&T Clark: Continuum, February 2007
ISBN: 0567031330

119 pp.

Price: $82.60 USD (via Regularly $110.00 USD.)

Browse some of the Contents of the Book (via Amazon)

Reviewed by Shawn Tribe

With the recent restoration of the traditional altar arrangement of six altar candlesticks and central altar cross in the Vatican Basilica, it would seem like an auspicious time to speak about a book, edited by Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, aptly titled Ever Directed Towards the Lord: The Love of God in the Liturgy of the Eucharist Past, Present and Hoped For.

The book is a compilation of essays that were presented as papers in a Catholic liturgical conference in the university town of Oxford in the Autumn of 2005. The conference was sponsored by the Society of St. Catherine Siena, an English Catholic society that pursues theological and liturgical research, and which has recently come into the spotlight for its sponsoring of an important liturgical study which will analyze and compare the pre and post-conciliar collects of the Roman Missal.

Many of the contributors found in the volume form a part of the “who's who list” of those working within the context of Benedict's “new liturgical movement” -- a movement which seeks to promote the sacred liturgy in continuity with the liturgical tradition of the Church. Contributors in the volume include Professor Eamon Duffy, Dr. Laurence Hemming, Fr. Jonathan Robinson, Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, Dr. Lauren Pristas, Dr. Susan Parsons and Paul Bradshaw. The papers themselves cover a range of topics which promises to offer something to most everyone.

While each essay brings its own unique and important considerations, for the purpose of this review, we will focus upon Professor Eamon Duffy's essay, The New Pope and the Liturgy and the essay of Fr. Jonathan Robinson, The Mass and Modernity in order to give you a sense of the book.

Eamon Duffy, The New Pope and the Liturgy

Eamon Duffy, a Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Cambridge, set out to study the liturgical thought of Ratzinger-Benedict. He began with an analysis of the differences between the thought of John Paul II and Benedict XVI as regards the sacred liturgy – differences that are now becoming more readily noticeable:

”Joseph Ratzinger is both more theologically sophisticated than his predecessor, and a good deal less religiously adventurous. John Paul II was a stout defender of tradition, yet he was untroubled by post-conciliar liturgical discontinuities which so disturb his successor, and he thought nothing of drastically recasting two of the most precious devotional treasures of the Catholic Church..."

Duffy here refers to the Rosary and Stations of the Cross of course, which John Paul II made revisions to. In this light, Duffy is quite correct to note that Benedict differs quite a bit from his predecessor insofar as he seems far more inclined to view himself as a steward and teacher of the tradition -- something he set out at the beginning of his pontificate. Of course, this does not make Benedict devoid of his own adventuresome spirit, which can be seen expressed in his willingness to go contrary to the liturgical establishment of the past decades in his work to re-orient the liturgy back toward that tradition.

In speaking of Benedict's approach to the liturgy, Duffy notes that the present pontiff is not for excessive business within the Mass, nor does he take stock in the idea that the liturgy must be instantly accessible; he further takes a position against any sort of theatricalization of the liturgy, as well as against improvisation and spontaneity. For Benedict, Duffy argues, these subvert the essence of the Mass, dumb it down, and contradict the liturgy's universal character.

The remainder of the essay surveys the Pope's thought on topics such as participatio actuosa, ad orientem, sacred music and the liturgical movement and presents the reader with a good summary of Benedictine liturgical thought as well as an introduction to the mixed history of the liturgical movement:

”The actual outcome of the liturgical movement, its drift away from a rediscovery of sources to a search for modernity, a departure... from the lines laid about by Guardini and others, however, was to change his mind about all this... the Latin liturgy came to seem to him a precious protection against a rootless aggiornamento, reform understood as the adoption merely of modern intellectual and cultural fads and fashions. In common with many of the fathers of the liturgical movement, he had hoped for a reform which would clarify and make more intelligible the beauty and wisdom of the ancient worship of the Church: he was not looking for fundamental change, but careful conservation and restoration.”

By presenting the history and meat of Benedict's thought as it relates not only to theological principle but also historical situation, readers will no doubt walk away with a greater understanding and appreciation of Benedict's program of liturgical reform – as seen in the aforementioned changes upon the papal altar as well as in Summorum Pontificum. Further to that, it should also help readers to better understand our present liturgical context and take a more nuanced view of the liturgical movement itself.

Jonathan Robinson: The Mass and Modernity

Our next point of focus is the paper of Fr. Jonathan Robinson, founder and provost of the Toronto Oratory and a philosopher by background. He brings this background to bear in a consideration of the influence of modern thought and how that relates to the “drastically altered” worship and approach to worship found within the Church today:

”What I am trying to do is to detect and lay out the cultural and philosophical dynamic of modernity which incubated the [liturgical] changes. It is this ideology of modernity which has in fact shaped the world-view not only of those who initiated the radical changes, but which also continues to colour the mind-set of many of those responsible for liturgical life.”

“...while the motives behind updating [the Church] may have been exemplary, the operation itself was at best carelessly handled and betrayed a frightening lack of awareness of the dynamic of the ideas that created and continue to create the modern world.”

The crux of the matter for Robinson is that ideas and principles do matter and the ideas and principles of modernity can often be found to be in opposition to Catholic principles and come at the precise expense of them. This is a point that must be recognized and analyzed if we are to understand our present liturgical situation, including why the situation of liturgical malaise we find ourselves in today exists.

”If there is to be a renewal of sacramental life... it will have to be based on a clearer recognition of the context and implications possessed by the ideas that have so powerfully affected the Church and her liturgy. This recognition cannot result from turning our backs on the forces that have created our [modern] world, but it will mean drawing different lessons about what they have to teach us from those that have in fact been drawn in the recent past.”

Liturgically, Robinson proposes that whatever our struggles to determine how to bring the message of the Gospel to a culture whose principles are often radically inimical to it, we must re-orient our worship clearly back to God for the sake of Catholicism itself. He considers a few areas for liturgical reform. Restoring ad orientem is desireable for a variety of reasons, not the least of which that the versus populum posture teaches the wrong lessons about the relationship between God, the priest and the Christian community. Second, the wide range of textual options and the ability of the priest to ad-lib within the modern Roman liturgy de-objectivizes the liturgy which further relates to a general lack of objectivity found within the culture itself. Drastically reducing or even suppressing such options so as to ensure that the Roman liturgy is recognizably the same wherever it is said will assist in a greater respect for the objectivity of the liturgy and objective truth itself and will better serve the needs of the community.

These and other such insights and proposals fill this paper – which also serves as a good introduction to Robinson's even more vigorous and thorough consideration of the same issues in his book, titled by the same name as his paper.

Concluding Considerations

This brief overview of some of the main themes found in the aforementioned two essays will hopefully give potential readers a sense of the depth and approach of the volume generally.

We have seen before volumes which have gathered together papers delivered at liturgical conferences, including another Oxford conference published by T&T Clark, Beyond the Prosaic, and this title takes its rightful place alongside these as a substantial and qualitative volume. It is a book to be highly recommended.

If there is a point of critique, it is simply with its pricing. While institutions will most certainly find this title a must-have for their liturgical collections, individuals may be tempted to leave the title aside for that reason. However, despite its expensive price tag, I would recommend that you consider putting out the money for the title, not only for reason of the quality and relevance of the contents, but also for the reason of supporting the work of conferences such as these and their participants and encouraging further publishing of such research which can only be of benefit for the furtherance of Benedict's new liturgical movement.

(A Photo from the Conference Liturgy)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I've noted to myself recently that there is a noticeably more irritable tone that can be witnessed in the comments.

As seems to be necessary every so often, a reminder about the rules of the comments.

1. Regardless of what you think of someone's ideas, don't call a person by names. That includes not calling Bishop Donald Trautman, "Trautperson" for example. This really detracts from the substance of any discussion and often results in the real points and issues being lost.

2. Individuals should not be attacked generally. If someone says something that is problematic, address the issue rather than attacking the person.

3. Feel free to disagree, debate and critique, but do it in a reasonable way, avoiding accusations, assumptions and exaggerations.

4. Be civil, constructive and intelligent in your comments.

The NLM comments have often been noted for being more constructive, reasonable and on the up and up than often happens in these sorts of matters. I think we've slipped on this in the past few weeks, so it is time to reverse that course and put ourselves back on track.

To assist in this regard, I ask all of you who comment to be extra conscientious in this regard in the coming days and weeks.

The Cardinals' biretta

The first post of this series dealt with the creation of new Cardinals in the Secret Consistory, and with delivery of the biglietto.

We shall see now the following step: the imposition of the biretta.

This ceremony hasn't a very solemn character, and may take place either in a room of the Apostolic Palace, or in the Consistorial Hall.

In the afternoon of the day before the day chosen for the Public Consistory, the new Cardinals -not wearing the cappa, but the mantelletta, because this ceremony doesn't take place during a proper Consistory- reach the apartments of the Secretary of State and, leaded by the same Eminentissimo and escorted by their private court and by the Swiss Guards, go to the Cappella Matilde where they wait for the formal notice to go up to the hall where the ceremony is about to take place.

(Below: Joseph Card. Ritter in Rome entourned by his private court: a gentleman carrying the biretta, the secretary, and the caudatario. The dean of the Cardinal's household and the aiutante di camera are missing in this picture)

(Picture below: final biretta test for Michael Card. Brown, Master General of the Order of the Preachers before the ceremony for the imposition)

The Sovereign Pontiff, escorted by his Noble Secret Antechamber, wearing the mozzetta and the red Papal stole -but not the falda- reaches the hall were the ceremony will take place and sits on the throne. The new Cardinals are then allowed to step in.

One by one, after the usual triple genuflection, they kneel in front of the throne and kiss the Pope's foot.

The Pontiff clothes them with the red mozzetta (Cardinals in Rome wore the mozzetta on the top of the mantelletta) and the red wool (not the silk) biretta; then they stand up, take off the biretta, kiss the Pope's hand and receive his embrace.

(Below: Giuseppe Card. Siri receives the red biretta from Pope Pius XII's hands)

After the imposition of the birettas, the first of the appointed Cardinals addresses to His Holiness a short discourse of thankgiving.

The Pontiff answers to it with a short allocution, and gives his Apostolical Blessing. Then he departs.

After the ceremony, one of the Papal Masters of Ceremony gives the red silk zucchetto to each of the new Cardinals.

If the new Cardinal is an Apostolic Nuncio to a Catholic country (in most recent times: Italy, France, Spain and Portugal), things -until 1969- worked differently.

Only in this case - here a small correction to my previous post is in order- the red silk calotte, or zucchetto, is carried to the newly appointed Cardinal by a noble guard of His Holiness.

(Below: Count Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano, noble guard of His Holiness, carries the red silk zucchetto to the newly-appointed Paolo Card. Marella, Apostolic Nuncio to France)

The zucchetto is kept in a special red morocco leather case with the coat of arms of the Pope.

It is then a privilege of the Head of the State to impose the biretta on the head of the new Cardinal.

(Below: French President Vincent Auriol imposes the biretta on Angelo Giuseppe Card. Roncalli's head)

Some Liturgical Delicacies on Google Books

Many of you will no doubt be already well of aware of this, but some might be surprised just what you can find in the Google Books feature. Here's just a few things:

Breviarium Ambrosianum (1830)

Breviarium Parisiense (1736)

Breviarium Parisisense (1836)

Breviarium Sacri Ordinis Praedicatorum (1850 - Pre-Pius X edition with mediaeval Dominican psalter)

Breviarium ecclesiæ Rotomagensis (1777)

Breviarium Sacri Ordinis Cartusiensis (1717)

Breviarium Canonicorum Regularium Ordinis Praemonstratensis (1786)

St. Josemaría Escrivá and the Iconography of Modern Saints

Matthew Alderman. San Josemaría Escrivá, Fundador del Opus Dei. Ink on Vellum. October 2007. Artist's Collection.

I was recently commissioned by a certain gracious lady in Vienna (the one with Strauss, not the one in Virginia) to do an image of St. Josemaría, my first international art commission, which was a great pleasure; I hope to present it here one of these days. The drawing above is a little follow-up piece I did for myself on a similar theme after completing the drawing and wanting to try a slightly different angle.

The project got me thinking about comparative lack of solid iconography associated with him and any number of other modern saints, such as St. Maximilian Kolbe, despite the wealth of possibilities inherent in their biographies. Why is St. Maximilian not shown with his two crowns rather than a few limp copies of The Knight of the Immaculate? Where is Gabriel Possenti and his smoking gun, and why is St. John Neumann not shown holding a charmingly medieval model of downtown Philadelphia?

Most representations of modern saints are really more portraits than true liturgical art, and while certainly it is appropriate to be faithful to a saint's true image when we have photographs, it is not enough to convey his presence symbolically. Some steps have been taken to endow him with attributes, and some of these--the rose, the simple cross used as a sort of logo by Opus Dei, guardian angels (what I used in my Vienna drawing as an attribute), or students and other members of the prelature clustered around him--are largely successful, but lack the compact elegance of a winged ox or a pierced heart that so characterizes the symbolism of the Western Church.

It seemed to me that the perfect symbol St. Josemaría would be the donkey, the symbol of his humility. Once, I'm told, when asked for a picture of himself by a disciple, he returned with a nice picture of a little burro. I can think of no better addition to the menagerie of the Church than St. Josemaría's donkey, alongside the lion of St. Jerome and the peacock of immortality.

A Baltimore Catechism on Latin in the Liturgy

[Fr. Christopher Smith is parochial vicar of St. Peter's Church in Beaufort, SC. He recently developed the following Baltimore Catechism style Q&A on the use of Latin specifically in the context of the modern Roman liturgy. It is worth sharing as some may find use for this in their own parishes.]

Questions and Answers about Latin in the Modern Roman Liturgy

Q. Didn’t Vatican II abolish Latin?

The first document of the Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, states “The use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rite” (para. 36). The postconciliar document on sacred music, Musicam sacram, states, “Care must be taken that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertains them.” The liturgy document stated, “since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants” (para. 36). The Council is clear that Latin is to be continued to be used in the liturgy, while the vernacular is an option. Therefore, even if we have vernacular in the Mass, we should still also have Latin in the Mass as well

Q. But isn’t going back to Latin a bad thing? Shouldn’t we be moving forward?

The Mass is actually still in Latin; we just experience in many of our parishes the full extent of permission to use English. The Church never abandoned the Latin, although in many places parishes did not fulfill the express will of the Council Fathers. There is no question of going back; we are actually just now beginning to do what the Council asked.

Q. Isn’t Latin exclusive, though? Won’t it split us up as Catholics?

Latin belongs to all Catholics. The Catholic Church is a universal Church, open to everyone. The use of a common language in worship is more inclusive, because it does not assume that everyone has to worship according to any one language or culture. Using only vernacular languages actually “ghettoizes” divine worship according to national and ethnic boundaries. Latin transcends borders and emphasizes the international and multicultural character of the Church.

Q. Isn’t the use of Latin just an historical anomaly that lasted way too long anyway?

Almost all world religions have a sacred language for worship. Muslims always read the Qu’ran in Arabic. Jews say all of their prayers in Hebrew. Hindus use Sanskrit or Pali, which no one speaks colloquially. Until the nineteenth century, Hebrew was virtually lost even among Jews. The Zionist movement made it a badge of religious identity, and a century later, an entire country has what was once a dead language as its official tongue and Jews throughout the world can all communicate in one language. Dead languages do come back to life because of religious reasons.

Q. Doesn’t 1 Corinthians 14.14 not say, “If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful”?

Saint Paul is not speaking on liturgical language, but makes reference to the Corinthians who were trying to speak in tongues without having that gift, who were essentially falsifying a gift of the Holy Spirit. Catholics should learn the basic prayers of the Mass in Latin as part of their normal religious education, so it is not unknown. That is why translations are provided, so that they can learn them.

Q. How can I get anything out of Mass if I can’t even understand every word?

Remember that God is a mystery beyond our intelligence. In the Eastern tradition, the mystery of God’s Otherness is expressed by a large part of the service being done behind a wall of icons and a series of veils. The people still actively participate, but they do so fully aware that the God they are worshipping is not immediately accessible to them. In the West, the function of icons and veils is taken in part by language. It emphasizes the mystery and the transcendence of a God who, despite His closeness to us, is still always beyond our reach.

That said, people shouldn't underestimate just how much one can come to understand the Latin prayers. By the faithful praying these same Latin prayers over and over, Sunday after Sunday (often with the benefit of a Missal which also translates those prayers) they do become very familiar with them and know, intensely, that which they pray. In fact, because Latin is not our first language, it can actually help us to be more conscientious about what we are praying as we focus even more upon how that prayer translates and thereby more potentially ponder the spiritual depths of its meaning.

Q. Are there any advantages to using both Latin and the vernacular in the Mass?

Yes! With the readings, the homily and certain prayers in the vernacular, the faithful can feel God calling to them in words that are familiar; the nearness of God is made present by the immediate comprehension of certain prayers and rites. We can foster a community spirit with a language which is used by some if not all of the worshippers in our parish church. But the Latin reminds us that the Church is not just our parish, and exists not just in one nation; that she is for all people and all times. The Latin also reminds us that we cannot “own” God; that He is a mystery not to be figured out, but to be adored.

Q. Is it wrong if I don’t feel the same when parts or the whole of Mass is in Latin?

The Mass is not about us. It is about the worship of God. If it were about us, then we would be adoring ourselves, and putting ourselves in the place of God. The Mass is the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Christ in obedience to His Father on Calvary for the salvation of the world. It is not entertainment. Worship is not having an attractive emotional experience that I design according to my likes and dislikes. It is receiving the gifts of that Holy Sacrifice and uniting my whole being with the great hymn of praise offered by the whole Church. Religion is not about us and our feelings; it is about offering to God the praise which is His due. And He asks us to praise Him according to the ritual forms as celebrated by His Church.

Q. How can I learn more about my Catholic faith and its rich liturgical heritage?

In Matthew 13.52 we read, Every scribe who has become a disciple of the Kingdom of Heaven is like the head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old. Veneration steeped in the Tradition should make us even more aware of new and creative ways to live our faith. If we are open to studying our Catholic faith, the documents of the Church, and cooperating with our priests in living out the liturgical riches of our Church, we have so much to gain!

Q. If you could recommend one book for me to read about this, what would it be?

Pope Benedict XVI’s Spirit of the Liturgy. Read that, and then ask Fr Smith whatever you want! It will change your life and also give you a clear sense of the direction that the Church is really going. What an exciting time to be a Catholic!

The Committee on Divine Worship

The BLC has changed its name and it has a new makeup:

Most Rev. Arthur J. Serratelli
Bishop of Paterson
Committee Chairman

Justin F. Cardinal Rigali
Archbishop of Philadelphia

Most Rev. Daniel M. Buechlein, OSB
Archbishop of Indianapolis

Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap.
Archbishop of Denver

Most Rev. George H. Niederauer
Archbishop of San Francisco Most Rev. Kevin J. Farrell
Bishop of Dallas

Most Rev. Ronald P. Herzog
Bishop of Alexandria in Louisiana

Most Rev. Octavio Cisneros
Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn

[Final Member To Be Determined]

Subcommittee on Liturgy for Hispanics

Most Rev. Octavio Cisneros
Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn
Subcommittee Chairman

[Members To Be Determined]

Consultants to the Committee on Divine Worship

Roger M. Cardinal Mahony
Archbishop of Los Angeles

Most Rev. John G. Vlazny
Archbishop of Portland in Oregon

(And now for the most common words in the Catholic blogosphere: Thanks Amy)

Explaining ad orientem to folks in the pews

Father, why did you say Mass facing the other way today?

Such are the questions celebrants get if they spring ad orientem on their congregations without preparation. So here is a monograph being distributed at one parish as a way of anticipating objections and explaining why this is taking place.

Full monograph for distribution here.

During Advent we will be celebrating Mass Ad Orientem (towards the East) or as most people wrongly say “with the priest’s back to the people. This ancient practice causes much bewilderment in modern Catholics.

The point of facing east is to emphasize the essential character of the liturgy: that of a procession out of time and into eternity in Heaven. We see and taste this procession in the course of the liturgy. The celebrant, standing in the person of Christ, leads the way, but we are all moving together, as a community and as the people of God, as part of the same procession that begins at the Introit, continues though the Offertory, and culminates with our reception of Holy Communion.

The practice offers a psychological and spiritual benefit. It permits you the worshipper to contemplate the purely sacramental character of the Mass and focus less on the personality of the celebrant. From the celebrant's point of view, it permits a more intense focus on the mystery of the sacrifice taking place rather than on the personalities of the worshippers.

Our goal at St. Bede and in the Teen CAFÉ community is not to permanently change the modern practice of Versus Populum Masses but, in the course of offering praise and worship to the Triune God, to introduce our teens to the richness of the Roman liturgical tradition and to have them ask important questions about what makes Mass different from what other Christians do when they pray.

Here are a few observations to keep in mind during Advent as we await the coming of the Lord:

1. Vatican Council II said nothing about the direction of the celebrant during Mass. It presupposed Mass ad orientem. Mass facing east was the norm from ancient times and even during and after Vatican Council II. There has never been authoritative liturgical legislation requiring any change. The Roman Missal (official liturgical book from which Mass is celebrated) not only permits it, the rubrics actually presuppose it, (e.g., the priest is told to "turn toward the people" at the Orate Fratres ("Pray, brethren . . .)

2. It has been the practice in the entire Church, East and West from time immemorial. Contrary to a prevailing misconception there is no evidence for celebration of Mass versus populum in the first nineteen centuries of the Church's history, with rare exceptions. (Cf. The Spirit of the Liturgy, by Cardinal Ratzinger, pp. 74-84.) The practice of reducing an altar to a table for a service facing the people began only in the 16th century — with Martin Luther.

3. Moving the altar closer to the nave, separating it from the reredos, and proclaiming the readings from the ambo are a welcome return to more ancient tradition and in harmony with the intent of Sacrosanctum Concilium. However, the almost universal celebration of the Mass versus populum, while permitted deprives the Mass of its traditional cosmic and eschatological symbolism.

4. Churches have traditionally been constructed facing the rising sun. Facing east we are turned in expectation toward the Lord who is to come (eschatology) and we show that we are part of an act that goes beyond the church and community where we are celebrating, to the whole world (cosmos). In churches not facing geographical east, the Cross and Tabernacle become "liturgical east".

The drama of salvation history is powerfully symbolized in the renewed liturgy when it is celebrated ad orientem. The priest faces the people as he calls them to prayer. Then he turns to lead them in the common plea for mercy (Kyrie eleison). He prays on behalf of the people as he continues to face the Lord. He turns toward the people to proclaim the Word and instruct them. After receiving their gifts, he turns again to the Lord to offer the gifts to God. He then turns to the people to distribute the Risen Christ at the eucharistic banquet.

While there is some positive symbolism in Mass versus populum, there is also a very negative symbolism. "The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself" (Ratzinger, p. 80).

It is our hope that the celebration of these Masses ad orientem during the season of Advent will enkindle in our teens a deeper appreciation for what transpires at each and every Mass. It is our hope that this experience will do more than simply turn the priest around. We hope that it will turn all of us towards God who is “ahead and above.”

Traditional Latin Mass at St. Mary's, Norwalk, CT

St. Mary Church in Norwalk, Connecticut is pleased to announce that it will be starting a weekly Missa cantata in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. Beginning on the First Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2nd, the traditional Latin Mass will be celebrated every Sunday at 9:00 a.m. in St. Patrick Chapel. St. Mary's is very glad to support the Holy Father's great leadership and courage in opening more widely to the Church the treasure of the classical Roman liturgy.

In bringing the traditional Latin Mass to Norwalk, Fr. Greg Markey, the pastor of St. Mary's, is responding to the requests of a number of parishioners in the months following the publication of Summorum Pontificum . Throughout October he led a series of well-attended classes at St. Mary's on the motu proprio and the traditional Latin Mass. This month Fr. Markey has also offered a series of motu proprio classes in Spanish, and these have been enthusiastically received.

In conjunction with the advent of the traditional Roman Rite, the parish is also excited to announce two recent clergy assignments. Fr. Richard Cipolla has been assigned to St. Mary's, Norwalk as parochial vicar. Fr. Cipolla, who until now had been parochial vicar at St. Mary's in Stamford, Connecticut, brings with him a wealth of experience in the traditional liturgy. In addition, Fr. Paul Check will be in residence at St. Mary's as he begins a new assignment as national director of the Courage apostolate. Both Fr. Cipolla and Fr. Check will arrive the weekend of the First Sunday of Advent, and will be instrumental in the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Mass at St. Mary's.

A professional choir under the direction of David Hughes, St. Mary's organist and choirmaster, will sing chant and polyphony every week for the 9:00 Mass in the extraordinary form. ( St. Mary's choir of dedicated volunteers will continue to sing for the 11:00 Mass in Latin in the ordinary form.) The traditional Latin Mass will begin in the newly renovated St. Patrick Chapel under the main church. If it is evident that there is a "stable group of the faithful" (per the motu proprio) who attend regularly, the Mass will then move to the upstairs church. The Masses on Dec. 2nd and Dec. 16th will be followed by a reception and a short talk by one of the priests, to which everyone is warmly invited. All are welcome to join the many faithful from Connecticut and New York who will be coming to Norwalk for the traditional Latin Mass!

For more information about St. Mary's, please see the parish website:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Answering a reader's question:

As mentioned by another reader, there exist two kinds of falde, a shorter and a longer one.

The shorter one is used only for the consistory. It's raised by two Papal Masters of Ceremonies:

The longer is used for liturgical ceremonies. Before the ceremonies it's raised by two apostolical protonotaries participantes. During the ceremonies, the side tails are raised by the two first auditori of the Sacred Rota, the back tails by two privy chaplains participantes, and the train is lifted by the Prince Assistant to the Throne.

Fourth pilgrimage of Polish Traditionalists to National Sanctuary in Częstochowa

"Mass in Extraordinary Form was celebrated by Fr. Wojciech Grygiel, FSSP in chapel of Miracoulus Icon in Clarmontana (Jasna Góra). There were about 400 - 500 faithful and 9 priests from all over Poland."

Pictures here

Bishop Cordileone Pontifical Requiem

Images are now available of the Pontifical Requiem in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite celebrated by Bishop Salvatore Cordileone for the repose of the soul of Fr. Sir Hugh Barrett-Lennard, Cong. Orat. Lond., Bart. (1917-2007).

More on this via Chorus Breviarii

Beta Testing a New Sacred Music Forum

Help us test out a new forum on Sacred Music. The idea here is to have an ongoing conversation that will be helpful to Catholic musicians around the world, so that if you are preparing for, say, Advent, and you want to discuss where to place the ictus on Ad te levavi, this is the place. Or you can post or discuss less obscure issues, such as translations of propers or whether such and such hymn is tacky or fabulous.

We welcome any suggestions for improvements in the basic structure. It is a work in progress.

Fr Kerper's discovery of the Extraordinary Form

This article from America is well worth a read... The priest's openness to the needs of the people shows a true liberality that is consonant with Pope Benedict's plea: "Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows."

Hopefully, more young priests will follow his example and discover the richness of the older form, and in doing so, receive new insight into the mystery of their priesthood and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which they offer in the name of God's Holy Church. For example:

I actually felt liberated from a persistent need to perform, to engage, to be forever a friendly celebrant. When I saw a photo of the old Latin Mass in our local newspaper, I suddenly recognized the rite’s ingenious ability to shrink the priest. Shot from the choir loft, I was a mere speck of green, dwarfed by the high altar. The focal point was not the priest but the gathering of the people. And isn’t that a valid image of the church, the people of God?

Fr Z. has also opened up some discussion on this article here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Recovering Choir Director is Back

Aristotle Esguerra is a pioneer in bringing together digital media and sacred music. His blog was first online and, before NLM,, and all the rest, he was out there making the case and working very hard at it. He fought some of the earliest battles on all these subjects -- not that he ever wanted battles, but his approach of simply telling the truth stirred up those who were unhappy about seeing their opinion monopoly challenged.

We were all a bit disappointed when he went into a sort of "retirement."

Now, all these years later, his wonderful site Cantemus Domino is back in business, and the new format features his legendary precision, balance, and thoroughness. It makes for great reading.

Welcome back Aristotle! A toast is in order.


On the occasion of the new Consistory celebrated a couple of days ago, with just a bit more solemnity than the previous ones, I thought some readers would find interesting to see how things used to be before the Pauline reforms altered the Roman ceremonial for the creation of new Princes of the Church.

We shall begin with the first step: the Secret Consistory for the appointment.

It is thus called because -apart from some very rare exceptions, such as when Emperors, Kings, Ereditary Princes, Electors of the Holy Roman Empire are present in Rome- only Cardinals are allowed to take part into it.

The Sovereign Pontiff, wearing the mozzetta, the falda, and the red papal stole, and escorted by his Noble Secret Antechamber, reaches the Consistory Hall, where the Sacred College is awaiting him.

(Picture below: the Noble Secret Antechamber in 1894)

As the first act, after the extra omnes and the roll call of the Cardinals (the so called adsumus), the Sovereign Pontiff gives an allocution -in Latin- to the Sacred College publishing the names of the new Cardinals.
During the Secret Consistory, the names of the newly appointed Bishops and Archbishops were also announced. This is the reason why, until 1967, the Roman Congregation now known as "Congregation for the Bishops" was called "Sacred Consistorial Congregation".

Immediately after, an emissary would carry to the newly-created cardinal -entourned by his closest relatives, prelates, and friends-the biglietto with his appointment. Many readers will probably recall this moment from the famous movie "The Cardinal" by Otto Preminger.

(Picture below: Joseph Card. Ritter receives the biglietto from the hands of Msgr. V.Valeri, privy chamberlain.)

From this very moment, the new Cardinal enjoyes all the privileges of a Prince of the Church.

(Picture below: His Holiness Pope Pius XII after the Secret Consistory for the election of new Cardinals)

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: